Toxic effects of different-sized graphene oxide particles on zebrafish embryonic development


Graphene oxide (GO) has broad application potential in many fields, such as biomedicine and energy. Due to the wide-ranging GO applications, its entry into the environment is inevitable along with the potential for ecological and environmental risks. In the present study, we systematically investigated the dose-dependent effects of three different-sized GO particles (50–200 nm, <500 nm, and >500 nm) on zebrafish during the very early developmental stages (4–124 h post-fertilization). The results showed that GOs could accumulate in the eyes, heart, yolk sac, and blood vessels of fish larvae. Consequently, their effects on multiple toxic endpoints were observed, including delayed hatching times, shortened body lengths, alterations in heart rate and blood flow, changes in swimming activity and responses to photoperiod stimulation, and the enhanced activity of total superoxide dismutase, inducible nitric oxide synthase, acetylcholinesterase, caspase-3, and induction of apoptosis-related gene expression. As a result, the occurrence of oxidative stress and the induction of apoptosis are suggested in fish larvae exposed to all three different-sized GO particles. In addition, our results highlight the impacts of waterborne-GO exposure on zebrafish during early development, which were not merely dependent on GO concentration but also on the associated GO sizes. This study hereby provides a basis for the potential ecological and health risks of GO exposure.